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tv   Nightline  ABC  October 31, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am PDT

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tonight on "nightline," across this storm-ravaged coast, the new threat of fires and explosions. president obama flying in today to survey the damage, as rescue teams go house to house to search for the 20,000 still stranded in this new jersey town. crisis in new york. nearly half the city without power. at least two dozen dead, as the biggest hospitals fight to stay up and running. forced to evacuate the sickest patients down dark flights of stairs. and, the aftermath. our team travels to the outer edges of the storm's fury, to towns demolished by a giant wall of water, where people were rescued from rooftops and sandy's misery stretches on. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with bill weir and cynthia mcfadden in new
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york city, and terry moran in tom's river, new jersey, this is a special edition of "nightline," the perfect storm. october 31st, 2012. >> good evening, i'm terry moran and i'm in tom's river, new jersey, one of the hard-hit communities on the water in this state. the water that superstorm andy hurled against the atlantic seaboard from maryland, all the way up to new york city and beyond. so many communities utterly devastated. you can see this kind of scene, as you see behind me, mile after mile on this coast. and two days after landfall now, the problems are piling up. the death toll now at 74. there's reports of an oil spill and now, a dangerous new threat in many communities, the ruptured gas lines in town after town. you can hear the hissing, you can smell the dangerous gas in the air. and the threat of explosions and fires is growing by the minute.
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morning broke on the jersey shore and the sun came out for the first time since the storm. and in the sunlight, all the wreckage seemed sadder, some how. it's not a dream, not even a nightmare. it's just here. >> we never really expected it to be this bad. we weren't smart, i know it. we weren't smart. that's it. just really never expected it to be what it was. >> reporter: mary, like so many here, has been through so much, but now, a new threat. >> everywhere you go, you hear "shh," just the gas, all the open gas lines going. just scared to death. >> reporter: fire now stalks the shore. this blaze this morning, fueled by natural gas leaks. the battle now is to prevent a catastrophe after the catastrophe. [ hissing ]
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do you hear that? that is a hissing gas main. you hear it on street after street, right up the shore. you can smell the gas in the air. and fire officials are concerned that these towns are basically ticking time bombs. up and down the sheore today, there is gas in the air. and people are getting angry. frustrated? >> absolutely. absolutely. there's probably four gas trucks on the whole island right now and this is happening all over the island right now. once that gas gets under that house, we got to get out of here. >> reporter: in this town, frank is living in real danger. have you called the gas company about this? >> five times. >> reporter: what's the response been? >> we'll get there as soon as we can. >> reporter: a high pressure gas main broke in the floodwaters right next to his home. you can see the gas pouring out. it ruptured monday night. >> i don't know why there's not more trucks here right now, i mean -- this is where we took the main shot. this is it, like, where are all
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these gas trucks? you got down the block. we got down the block. why can't we get gas trucks down the block? >> reporter: the disaster across this region has shattered infrastructure and recovery seems a long way away. so, no new york city today this was a genuinely good sign. traffic lights in lower manhattan slowly starting to turn on again. across the hudson, however, many people are still under duress. in hoboken, nearly a quarter of the city is under water, street after street, flooded and most of the city is without power. 20,000 people are stranded in their homes tonight. and after repeated appeals from the mayor, the national guard finally showed up today, providing a safe passage out. my abc news colleague alex perez spoke to people who had been trapped. >> it's scary. you don't know how long you're going to be stuck here. you don't know how you're going to get out of town. >> you can't find out what's going on anywhere else. we've been in a little island.
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>> reporter: elsewhere in the city, fire trucks were delivering food and supplies to people still sheltering in place. people charging their ipods, even coffee machines by generator. in at land take city today, new jersey governor chris christie and president obama toured the state's battered coast. they stopped at a community center, where at its peak, 200 people found shelter. 50 still remain. a political odd couple, for sure. in the past, they've traded barbs. now, they must cooperate at chief executives and they heaped praise on each other today. >> it's been a great working relationship to make sure that we're doing the jobs that people elected us to do. >> i have to say that governor christie, throughout this process, has been responsive, he's been aggressive and i think the people of new jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure that the people of new jersey
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bounce back even stronger than before. so, i just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership. >> reporter: political aside, they will be judged. everyone in this situation will be judged by results. alone the jersey shore, there were dedicated disaster response teams just beginning the enormous task ahead. and more rescues of the stranded. you all right? but we saw only a few gas crews out here. they have to make this place safe first. for all those, who, like mary ward, have lost so much, but who yet have so much to live for. >> i have nothing left. these aren't even my clothes. >> reporter: when you look at it, how do you feel? >> glad to be alive. >> looking forward to a better tomorrow, and there will be one. next up, inside a manhattan in crisis. my co-anchor cynthia mcfadden at one of new york city's biggest hospitals, which was forced to
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evacuate its sickest patients in the dark as the power failed. [ male announcer ] you like who you are... and you learned something along the way. this is the age of knowing what you're made of. so, why let erectile dysfunction get in your way? talk to your doctor about viagra. 20 million men already have. ask if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain; it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. side effects include headache, flushing, upset stomach, and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. this is the age of taking action. viagra. talk to your doctor. see if america's most prescribed ed treatment is right for you.
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>> announcer: this special edition of "nightline," the perfect storm, continues with terry moran. >> welcome back to our special coverage of the aftermath of superstorm sandy. i am in toms river, new jersey, on the hard-hit new jersey coastline. we're going to take you now to manhattan, still struggling to recover. sinlt ya mcfadden is at one of new york city's major hospitals where evacuations of the sick are currently under way. cynthia? >> good evening, terry. that's right. well, new york began to wobble back to her feet today.
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the new york stock exchange opened and some buses are running, but i am standing in front of the third major hospital to shut down since the storm. this is the legendary bellevue. yesterday, when they began the evacuation, there were 725 patients inside. tonight, there are still about 200 patients inside, along with 200 members of the national guard, who are helping carry them down, sometimes as many as 18 stories. you know, we began the day here but we spent much of it in yet another community where the devastation is still to be fully unpacked. a community just outside of new york, the rockaways. this morning, the word went out. backup generators operating since monday night had failed. national guard troops called in to help carry out hundreds of patients from bellevue, one of the country's busiest. some patients having to be carried down from as high as the
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18th floor. >> we have not experienced anything on this scale. >> reporter: emergency crews have been furiously pumping water out of the hospital's basement, up to eight feet of water. this is the problem, the hospital is flooded. the east river is right here on the other side of this building. this baby was born here a few days ago. what did they tell you? >> that they had no light and everything is down, just wait and reschedule. >> reporter: this afternoon, we made our way to a remote part of new york, across the river in the rockaways. look. everybody's been flooded. hard-hit and isolated by sandy's ferocious triple assault of wind, water and fire. this is where the drain is. every single home we saw was damaged. 21 of them burned to the ground. it's a landscape peppered with melted cars, scarecases leading nowhere, as residents'
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possessions were lined up along the sidewalk. look at this, just house after house, every single house is -- these people's lives have just been turned upside down. one popular local restaurant, the harbor light, reduced to an awning and an american flag. you want to understand how hot that fire was and how quickly it moved? take a look at this. brand new. is everybody okay? >> yeah. >> reporter: here, where the manhattan skyline is visible in the distance, we found the residents angry, feeling forgotten. they say that nobody has been here yet to help them. but most we talked to were trying to dig their homes out, neighbor to maybe, piece by piece. this man showed us his home. his furniture floating in his flooded living room. >> i would say eight to nine feet. this is, right here, where the water line stopped. right here. >> it was scary. >> reporter: we met a family of
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three generations, grandpa rudy shows us around the destruction that has befallen their home. enormous sand dunes have formed in front of their house. >> we spent our life on that sand over there. now, we have it here. >> reporter: oh, my lord. and the boardwalk in front of it has been completely heaved up. there used to be 12 feet of sand right over here, leveled. this boardwalk, this boardwalk used to be right here. swept up over here, the sand, down 118th street, total devastation of these houses. this is yet another community that has suffered terribly. the night of the storm, residents tell us the streets were flooded as fires burned out of control. never seen anything like it? >> never, 16 years on the job. >> reporter: it's a tiny area and residents are like family to one another here. >> atlantic ocean, jamaica bay is that way, our communities is four blocks away.
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and typically as a community, were are very close. >> reporter: yet almost everyone in this friendly community chose to stay, despite the warnings to evacuate. >> we're here for last year's storm, we rode it out and it was a lesson poorly learned. >> reporter: you would evacuate next time? >> absolutely. >> reporter: after the destruction was evident, people once again banded together. i like that everybody's helping. a tribute to a resilient community battered but surely not broken. really nice people. well, up next, dan harris takes us to staten island, where there are rescues from rooftops, as the wall of water descended. [ male announcer ] choosing a windows 8 device with help from your friend. i'm thinking about upgrading... finally! jonathan was fine when you were in your 20s, but he's not right for you. good-bye jonathan and his creepy little girl hands. i meant...
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welcome back to our special storm coverage. and from here in toms river, new jersey, we're going to take you back to new york city, where actually, the full extent of the ruin caused bid sandy by sandy w coming into focus. let's go to abc's dan harris, our colleague, who is in staten island tonight. dan? >> reporter: good evening to you from in front of what remains of a neighborhood restaurant here. the people in this area say they were hit by a sort of tsunami. in my ways, it was a secret tsunami, because the vast majority of the media attention has really focused on the jersey shore and lower manhattan. so, today, we decided to travel
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to staten island to see for ourselves this hidden pocket of utter devastation. we woke up this morning to alarming images out of staten island. people being plucked off their roovs two days after sandy, in scenes reminiscent of katrina. also reports of a desperate search for two children, swept away from their mom in the storm surge. and then word that the death toll had nearly doubled to 14. it was becoming clear that staten island, a sleepy enclave best known as the name sake for the famous staten island ferry, was a world away from the rest of this city which today was getting moving again. so, we hopped in the car outside of our office in manhattan, expecting a journey that would be made very difficult by the city's maddening post-storm grid lock. instead, the real problems became getting gas. we drove around northern new jersey for hours encountering lines and frustrated people. >> aggravating. that storm did its thing. knocked out everything.
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>> reporter: we were only saved by some relatives of one of our colleagues who brought us a two-gallon jug of gas. >> just keep it. >> reporter: it's okay. finally, we arrived. and look at what we saw next from our window. >> the transformer blew up and took the whole store down. that's my open sign to the store. it burned down completely. >> reporter: then, we got to the flooding. micro man had just salvaged his kids clothing from their flooded-out house. >> everything is floating, i saw my couch floating by. >> reporter: you saw your coach floating by? what is that like? >> well, stuff you pay for, stuff you buy, stuff you work for. >> reporter: we quickly started to hear stories about a wall of water that came through here. the water up to -- >> up to the bay windows, yes, coming into our front door. >> reporter: and dragging cars down the street? >> dragged my car out of the driveway, down the street, flipping cars over. you can see cars flipped over down the street.
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it was just amazing. like a tsunami, the waves, the pressure of the waves, they were over these houses here and it was extraordinary what was happening. >> it was coming in, rushing like a rapids, it was just coming, it was curving around that corner and rushing down. >> reporter: some people were trapped in their homes and drowned. there have been a lot of comparisons to katrina. and this is something that really does remind me of katrina, emergency officials marking every single house so that other emergency officials who come through can know, are there bodies in here? has it been cleared? the deeper we went on our tour of hell, the more bizarre the scenery became. when the wave came through, they radically reshuffled the deck here. things everybody's worldly possessions way out of play. the boat in the driveway and come over here, take a look at this. we have a jacuzzi in a tree. this is quite extraordinary and
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reminds me of what one guy we met just a few hours ago said. he asked me a question, he said, who's the boss? and i said, who? and he said, mother nature. but the craziest thing we saw today was donald's house. this is your house right here? >> yeah. yeah, this is my house. it used to be over there. >> reporter: the house, just to put a fine point on this, the house was there -- >> right. >> reporter: and the water pushed it all the way over here. >> it pushed it and the other side used to be on this side. >> reporter: it pushed and twisted. >> yeah. >> reporter: it's sad, he told us, but he will rebuild. resilience and a recognition that mother nature is, in fact, the boss. for "nightline," this is dan harris on staten island. >> thanks to dan harris in staten island. thank you for watching abc news. check in for "good morning america," they're going to have the latest on all the storm's aftermath., as well. jimmy ki
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